By James Steindler
“For Trees so Tall” is a recently published memoir written by Carbondale resident Jess Jacobson. It is her first published book. The story follows her life, as well as her family members’, and the shared experiences will resonate with people that have endured intergenerational trauma.
Jacobson is a healer, practicing for over 20 years, having gone to school to study Asian Bodywork Therapy. She and her husband run her business, Sacred Soul Healing Arts, out of Basalt. In the book, her calling to heal others comes up at various points, sometimes in the most unlikely of scenarios.
“I thought it would be a book about teaching others how to heal. After all, I have dedicated over 20 years to this endeavor in my personal practice,” said Jacobson, “but I found that when I sat down to write, my life story unfolded.”
The book may be particularly interesting to those who live in the Colorado or Roaring Fork valleys; not merely for the reason that much of the narrative takes place in the area, but also because some of the struggles described are not unique to this one local family. “It has some great local history,” added Jacobson, “which people seem to enjoy.”
Jacobson was raised between Aspen and Vail and born into a family that attained their fortune through the fur-coat industry. Some may recall the family’s retail locations in either Vail or Aspen, but you’ll have to read the book to find out.
From the time she was a young girl, Jacobson witnessed her mother succumb to substance abuse and the tumultuous domino effect of life choices and events that resulted. From that bright young age, Jacobson found solace in nature.
The importance of nature to Jacobson’s own path to healing comes up throughout the book. Therefore, she hopes “that the readers connect with a better understanding of our interconnectedness with nature, and what it can bring us — be that peace, healing, understanding or excitement and adventure.”
She always cared for her family (including aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) and hoped that their differences and personal struggles wouldn’t get the best of them. At the same time, even at a young age, she longed to be free from the chaos that surrounded her upbringing.
As soon as she could, Jacobson fled to a big city and indulged in her own life choices, some of which mimicked her mother’s. However, while she overcame these self-made obstacles, her mother continued to struggle with her own. Her mother’s situation culminated in a fatal event, a story that was sprawled all over the local papers in the early 2000s.
While she intended to write the book to teach others, she ended up helping herself too, by unpacking her life circumstances, page after page. “I think the most important process of writing this book for me was the healing that took place,” said Jacobson, “I have spent a long time moving through my past trauma and have helped hundreds of people move through their own, yet there was clearly residue of my trauma still with me.”
Jacobson is working on her next book “To Love Like a River: A Mother’s Resistance to Deep Pain and Even Deeper Love,” which will pick up where “For Trees so Tall” leaves off. “This book is deeply personal, because it moves through my relationship with my daughter who had just been born at the end of ‘For Trees so Tall’ but is now seventeen,” explained Jacobson.
“To be raised in these mountains among the trees and creeks is a true gift, sure there were consequences, but to be able to feel so at home in these mountains,” the author sighed, “I can’t think of anything better.”